High-wire squirrels torch man's home twice in 8 days

BLUE ISLAND, ILLINOIS - If you think Alan Turcott has bad luck, just think of the squirrels in his neighborhood.

For the second time in eight days, Turcott's Blue Island home caught fire when squirrels knocked high-voltage wires loose from a utility pole and onto his three-story house, fire officials said.

"This is unbelievable," Blue Island Fire Chief Robert Copp said. "I've seen where squirrels have shorted things out or blown a fuse, but nothing like this before."

Two scorched squirrels were found after the fires, confirming the critter cause, Copp said. It appears they transferred power from one line to the next as they bounced across the wires June 9 and 17.

"It's like a battlefield around here," Turcott said as he pointed to his plywood-patched home. "I think it's a total loss. It's just a big nightmare."

But Turcott isn't so quick to point the finger at his furry neighbors. The lines should be able to handle squirrel traffic, he said.

"If (ComEd) would have maintained and repaired (the wires) properly, the fires wouldn't have started," he said.


in Year